25 Jan

Brain injury and employment barriers

Having a job provides stability in life. Work creates independence and gives people ownership over their lifestyle, how they choose to spend their time, as well as helping build their confidence and personal identity. Returning to work is still the main goal of many who experience a brain injury.  

Brain injury is an invisible or hidden disability, so many of the impacts aren’t visible and often rely on the person disclosing this information when applying for, starting, or during their employment. This article discusses barriers that may affect someone’s ability to secure or retain work when they have a brain injury.  

Misconceptions & judgements

The lack of visible problems can see some employers dismiss someone’s brain injury as well as unfairly judge them and their abilities. Employers who feel this way won’t take the person’s brain injury seriously and will not accommodate or make the workplace more accessible. They may also have a misconception or attitude that the person is ‘lazy’ or able to work through their fatigue. These misconceptions and judgements can be really damaging to someone with a brain injury and can result in the person losing their employment.  

Lack of awareness & understanding

When employers don’t consider that employees may be managing the impact of a brain injury, they won’t make the right accommodations in the workplace or treat the employee with the consideration needed. Despite 4.4 million Australians living with a disability, there is still a lack of awareness in Australia that people are living with a brain injury that can heavily impact people in their everyday lives. Many organisations are working to educate employers and help raise awareness of hidden disability, especially in the workplace.  

Discrimination & unfair treatment

The unfortunate reality is people with a brain injury may experience discrimination at work in the form of unfair dismissal, bullying, harassment, or not being paid adequately for their work. 2021 statistics claimed that 1 in 6 people aged 15-64 with disability have experienced disability discrimination. The treatment may be direct or indirect. 

There are organisations that support people if they are experiencing discrimination. If you or someone you know has or is experiencing discrimination are work, here’s are ways you can get support: 

How to remove these barriers

Educating and training is the best way to ensure employers know the impact of a brain injury and how to best support someone. Synapse delivers unique, specialised training to help you and your team better understand the needs of people impacted by a brain injury. Our learning areas include an introduction to brain injury, its impact, causes and effects, and how to support someone. Enquire and find out more about booking training with us.

If you’re living with a brain injury, Disability Employment Services (DES) Work Assist is available to you. This program provides support to employees with a disability or injury who may be struggling to perform their full duties, reducing the risk of losing your employment. There are also workplace modification and the Employment Assistance Funding (EAF) you can access. This will provide funding for workplace modifications, assist you in maximising your work performance, and increase your work opportunities.